U.S. label shipments are projected to advance at a 4.5% annual rate to $19.2 billion in 2013. That is according to “Labels,” a new study from Cleveland-based research firm The Freedonia Group, Inc. (www.freedoniagroup.com). The report also indicates that more than three-quarters of total gains will be attributable to the pressure-sensitive segment, which will continue to dominate label shipments. However, more rapid growth will be achieved by heat-shrink, stretch-sleeve, and in-mold labels, as these application methods provide increasingly intense competition for pressure-sensitive labels. Heat-shrink labels are forecast to outperform all other major label types, benefiting from their attractive, 360-deg aesthetics, broad promotional area, and capacity to provide tamper-evidences, as well as their increasing cost-effectiveness and ability to form-fit contoured containers.
Despite losing market share to plastic, paper will continue to be the most widely used stock material in the label industry. Paper will advance strongly in absolute terms, but will be significantly outpaced by plastic, which will account for more than one-quarter of the label shipments by 2013. Increased use of plastic stock materials will be supported by the shift toward plastic packaging, as well as the material’s aesthetic and performance advantages over paper. Among plastic label resins, oriented polypropylene will continue to exhibit favorable growth, while polyvinyl chloride will lose market share to other plastic substrates with lower perceived environmental and health risks.
Flexography is the most common method for printing labels, owing to its widespread use in the large pressure-sensitive category. Increasingly, different printing processes are being combined in order to achieve superior label graphics. This will support gains in screen and digital technologies in particular. Shipments of digitally printed labels are forecast to expand at the most rapid rate, nearly doubling by 2013.
Primary packaging will remain the single largest application for labels in the U.S. market. However, faster growth will be posted by mailing and shipping, and by secondary labels. Internet shopping will continue to boost demand for mailing and shipping labels, as many items that had previously been shipped in volume to retailers are now mailed individually to online customers. Gains in secondary labels will be based on continued demand for bar-coding labels, and increased utilization of radio frequency identification and electronic article surveillance anti-shoplifting systems.